By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Next month marks an anniversary that I can’t believe we are reaching: Two years since I presented to the Legislature a budget that included the sale of the Sain building.
The Legislature approved that budget.
Yet the Sain building remains unsold despite a willing and well financed buyer who is offering more than a half-million over the appraised value for a deteriorating building that Rockland County no longer needs.
The proposed buyer has now sweetened the deal further by offering to build a public park complete with benches, gazebos, lighting and plantings.
Imagine that – a greenspace in the center of New City for all to enjoy at a whopping cost of a $1 per year lease to the County.
Many thanks to Legislator Charles Falciglia for brokering that deal and working tirelessly to sell the Sain building for the good of everyone in Rockland County.
Yet it seems there are still some in the Legislature who would rather have a dilapidated, empty building in our county center instead of a park, an income-producing ratable and new housing options for our frail elderly.
There aren’t even words to describe the absurdity behind this delay.
On the positive side – the sale would allow us to pay off 40 percent of our remaining fiscal deficit, fund our non-mandated not-for-profits and give us a cushion as we negotiate union contracts. And now we add to those benefits a park to greet visitors to the county center and residents instead of an exceptionally ugly deteriorating building.
On the negative side – well, none that I can think of. And none that the Legislative majority, led by the Ramapo 5, can clearly articulate other than the tired old we-need-more-parking song and dance that has even less credibility now that we added 70 new parking spaces at the county office complex.
I’m putting the final touches on the 2018 budget, which is due to the Legislature on October 1.
The buyer has offered to pay $4.51 million – $510,000 over the appraised value for this county-owned building on New Hempstead Road in New City.
Once again I point out that money could allow us to wipe out nearly half the remaining deficit, which now stands around $10 million – down from the $138 million mess I inherited.
The Sain building sale would also help ensure funding for our non-mandated not-for-profits, And, crucially, it will give us a cash cushion we can draw on as we negotiate new contracts with county employees, something the Legislature urged us to do last year.
And let’s not forget another group that will benefit greatly: our frail seniors and their families.
Many people want to age in place, to remain close to friends and family and the surroundings they know so well.
Our population is aging.
The Legislature knows this all too well: its own 2010 report “Project Tomorrow: Aging in Place; Making Rockland a More Elder-Friendly Community” stated that the number of people 85 and older is projected to grow more than 100 percent between now and 2035.
We know, sadly, that many people in that age range develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Rockland County has a very limited number of facilities for frail elderly in need of care.
National Development, which has been trying for two years to buy the Sain building to knock it down and create housing for the frail elderly, will add a new option for this growing part of Rockland’s demographic.
Their plan fills a need for our senior, adds to the tax base, uses few services and now, with the offer of a public park, beautifies the center of our county and provides a no-cost public amenity.
How in the world can the Legislative majority continue to hold up this deal?